Day 127: “I’m Looking Through You”

When was it recorded?  Oct. 24, Nov. 6 & 10-11, 1965

When was it first released, and on which album?  Dec. 3, 1965 on “Rubber Soul”

Who wrote it?  McCartney

Have I heard this song before?  Yes

What my research dug up:

“I’m Looking Through You” is another of Paul’s passive aggressive jabs at then-girlfriend Jane Asher, who I do not envy. (For reference, see Day 13: “Another Girl” or Day 67: “For No One.” The Beatles Bible cites “We Can Work It Out” and “You Won’t See Me” as further examples, which we haven’t gotten to yet.) It was also written at her parent’s home in London, where Paul was living at the time.

“As is one’s wont in relationships, you will from time to time argue or not see eye to eye on things, and a couple of the songs around this period were that kind of thing. This one I remember particularly as me being disillusioned over her commitment. She went down to the Bristol Old Vic quite a lot around this time. Suffice to say that this one was probably related to that romantic episode and I was seeing through her façade. And realizing that it wasn’t quite all that it seemed. I would write it out in a song and then I’ve got rid of the emotion. I don’t hold grudges so that gets rid of that little bit of emotional baggage. I remember specifically this one being about that, getting rid of some emotional baggage. ‘I’m looking through you, and you’re not there!’” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)

Again, ouch.

Musically, Alan Pollack notes “I’m Looking” is in the key of A-flat Major, which is an odd choice. Quoth Pollack, “I’d be surprised if Paul originally conceived of the song in this key, and rather suspect that it was composed in the ‘easier’ key of G and adjusted upward, perhaps by capo, in the studio.”

The Beatles began recording “I’m Looking Through You” at the end of October. According to the Beatles Bible, “They spent nine hours perfecting the song; onto the rhythm track, recorded in a single take, they overdubbed lead and backing vocals, handclaps, maracas, organ and electric guitar.” Quoth Pollack, “You can tell right off that this is no rough or tentative demo rehearsal from the fussy care with which the arrangement is worked out” and further noted the vocal arrangement remains basically unchanged from here to the final product. The first take also confirms Pollack’s suspicion that “I’m Looking” was written in the key of G. This original version appeared on “Anthology 2.”

The band attempted to remake the song two weeks later but stopped after two takes. On Nov. 10 they finally arranged and recorded the version of “I’m Looking Through You” that appeared on “Rubber Soul.” According to the Beatles Bible they got the rhythm track in one take and overdubbed vocals and handclaps the following day.

According to Wikipedia, “The North American stereo version of the song contains two false guitar starts.”





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